At first glance it is easy to tell this is a blu-ray player. The Sony BDP-S350 continues with Sony’s current trend of Blu-ray player styling, with a plain glass effect front panel with a slight blue tinge. Whilst we appreciate that Sony is trying to separate the looks of their Blu-ray players from their DVD Players, we would prefer the way Panasonic have gone about it with their BD35. However, it looks good enough and certainly doesn’t appear to be a budget player. When you get your hands on the S350 though, it becomes a bit more obvious that this is an entry level player, with a slightly flimsy feel to the unit.
Turning the player on is quite a surprising affair, as it is not only fairly quiet compared to many of the other Blu-ray players we have seen, but it is also quite quick, with a start up time getting close to the acceptable level. But even if the wait was longer, it would be worth it, because this is a fantastic player with a picture and sound quality that is easily Sony’s best effort so far. The picture is dazzling and everything you’d expect from Blu-ray and suprisingly well balanced – as is the sound we should add. What makes it more amazing is that with street prices dipping under the £200 mark buyers will be be getting quite a bargain. It comes in a few quid more than its closest price competitor, the Samsung BDP-1500, but is the better buy of the two. We still think the Panasonic DMP-BD35 just pips it for standard DVD playback but at around £50 more, it should do.
What to consider before you buy Sony BDP-S350
There is a good chance that your player will only be Blu-ray profile 1.1 when you receive it, and not the latest profile 2.0. You will be able to upgrade the firmware via the built in ethernet port so it’s not the end of the world. Also it won’t decode DTS-HD Master Audio, but it will output HD audio in bitstream to a compatible AV Receiver like the Onkyo 607. The player is also missing 5.1 analogue inputs.
Who you should buy Sony BDP-S350
For the price, it’s a great player that does all the right things – sound and picture are fabulous of course, but even the remote and menu system are a joy to use. It has all the inputs you need, including ethernet (for updates and BD-Live) and a USB port. We knew that Blu-ray players were on the verge of getting everything just right, and with BDP-350 they have, and whole lot more affordable too.